L 3-35 Light Tank

The L 3-35 Light Tank was an improved version of the earlier L 3-33, with better armour and an improved engine. The L 3-33 (CV.33) was itself an improved version of the CV.29, an Italian version of the Carden-Loyd Mk IV Tankette.

The early prototypes were designated the Carro Veloce 33/II. It entered service as the Carro Veloce 35 (CV.35) but in the late 1930s was renamed the L 3-35 (light tank, 3 ton, 1935 model).

The L 3-35 differed from the L 3-33 in using bolted armoured plates on the superstructure in place of the welded plates used on the older mdoel. The tank was armed with two 8mm Breda Model 38 machine guns, although a flamethrower version (CV 35 Lf - lancifiamme) was also produced. A command tank version with a radio installed and often with a false superstructure and gun was also produced. Starting late in 1940 a number of L 3 tanks were rearmed with a 20mm Solothurn anti-tank rifle or a 12.7mm Breda-SAFAT heavy machine gun.

The L 3-35 was the main Italian light tank at the start of the Second World War and saw combat during the Italian invasion of France (June 1940), the Italian invasion of Greece (from October 1940) and in the North African desert. A small number was also given to the Italian 8th Army, operating in Russia (where they served alongside a number of L 3-33s and L 6-40s). This force was destroyed in late 1942-early 1943 during the Soviet counterattack around Stalingrad. Like the L 3-33 the L 3-35's small size meant it was easy to manoeuvre, but its thin armour meant it was vulnerable to just about every anti-tank, including the .55 calibre Boys anti-tank rifle in use with the British in the desert. The L 3 series tanks were withdrawn from front line combat in 1942 but remained in use with internal security forces and in anti-partisan operations.

Weight: 7,209lb
Crew: 2
Armament: Twin 8mm machine guns
Armour: 6-13.5mm
Engine: 43hp Fiat SPA CV3 four-cylinder liquid cooled inline petrol engine
Top speed: 26mph
Maximum Range: 75 miles
Length: 10ft 6in
Width: 4ft 7.1in
Height: 4ft 3.2in

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (12 April 2012), L 3-35 Light Tank , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_L_3-35.html

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